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The Year of Mind, Body, and… Wallet

Without really meaning to, I’ve decided to try to make this a year (or more) of mind, body, and wallet. Meaning that during the same time frame I’ve somehow decided to 1) focus more fully on fitness, 2) read at least 10-20 books of “literature” for 2022, and 3) limit my spending.

The fitness backstory: 2021 was a year of surprise medical problems. From the months of March to May in 2021, during what I felt was a giant positive upswing in my fitness journey (I was looking fit, toned, and strong; I was using my Olympic weight set), I started bleeding. Like, a lot. I was hemorrhaging. I had to go to the Emergency Room twice because the first time, I’d lost a quarter of my blood volume and the second time, I was well on my way to losing half my blood. Both ended up in hospital stays. I got put on different medicines to try to stop the bleeding. They never worked completely. In May, I underwent a hysterectomy and everything that was wrong in that part of my body was taken out. And after I healed (3 whole months for full healing), I had to deal with weakened muscles that ended up in back pain for which I went to physical therapy. After a few more months, I finally felt ready to start my fitness journey over. But during these months, I had gotten out of shape and weak. I wanted to be strong again. I really started rock climbing regularly and did some light weights to start, but it was in December that I felt strong enough to really take my 20- and 30-pound dumbbells seriously. So for 2022 I decided to finish what I’d started 1.5 years ago.

Reading: 2021 was also a year of loss. Like I mentioned before, I inherited a few old books from someone who was gone too soon due to Covid and never visiting the doctor, like, ever. Reading Ulysses (I’m now halfway through it) has ignited within me a desire to read more literary fodder, as in anything that’s not a “quick airport book from a tiny newsstand.” The types of books that you don’t have to think about. I do enjoy the relaxed non-heavy read. But, it’s not like I’ve never read anything substantial. I went through a beatnik phase and a William Faulkner phase. I had a Tom Robbins phase. I took Philosophy classes in college (which forced me to read Plato, Aristotle, Hume, etc.) and I read stuff like Bertrand Russell for fun. My high school had me read a lot of classics because it was 3 years of Honors English and 1 of AP English. But there were still books that were out of my reach or kind of slippery because I was simply too ADD to focus on them. But now I’m 2 decades older, my ADD is controlled, and I have the time and the life knowledge to tackle books I’ve missed. Which books? Well, I’m not sure yet. There are lists of books all over the place. My first thought is to balance the reading so that I’m not reading War and Peace and Anna Karenina at the same time, that there is a difference in time, place, author, and culture. I’d also like to read across genres and points of view. Variety is the spice of life, they say.

So far this year I’ve finished Circe by Madeline Miller and Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. (One of those was deeper than the other.) I’ve got Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino*, All Systems Red by Martha Wells*, Dune, and Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier* on rotation. And of course, Ulysses. From the library I have one Neal Stephenson book, Fall, or Dodge in Hell. On my “next” list is A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu*, and Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller. On my bookshelf are Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, and the writings of H. P. Lovecraft. There are even more books in my Kindle and on my ebook “to read” list. My intention is to pick books that can make me pause and think, but sometimes, I’m not sure every book I pick will do that. Circe was a lot simpler read than I had thought; it was good but not as dense as I thought it would be. (I’d recommend Galatea by Madeline Miller as a more thoughtful read). In any case, I’m sure I’ll write about the things I read.

The wallet: Suddenly one day I pondered if I could do an entire year of “no spending”. This was after the splurging I did in November and December to set up my workstation at home with 2 4k monitors and a docking station. I also bought a bookshelf. Not to mention everyone’s holiday gifts. Then one day after Christmas, it hit me that I could try to do a “no spend” month where I didn’t buy anything on impulse or that I didn’t really need. I wondered how much money I could save. I thought about what were “approved” spends and “bad” spends — and if you’ve never thought of this before, it is an enlightening exercise. For people doing this, the first thing they must do is to make lists of what’s a “need” versus a “want”, what’s okay to spend on, and what isn’t. (One can look up “no spend year” and find a million links and social media about the topic.) I read this Forbes article to start.

What’s nice about the No Spending thing is that it’s personalized, for the most part. I, for instance, do not need the latest game console or video game, because nothing I do depends on that. Someone else might. Someone else might not need shampoo and conditioner, but I do, or else my hair turns into a giant, out-of-control tumbleweed. I can broadly put down in the “approved” list things like medical bills, medicines, things for health maintenance, insurance, and things for health improvements. Other “approved” spending includes food (nothing carb-loaded or deep fried), gifts (dollar limits depending on what the gift is for), car maintenance, house maintenance, vacation, and replacements for things I already own if they are used up or worn down, like soap. It’s easy to write “No late-night Amazon browsing” and remember it, hence, cutting out the possibility of ordering something half-asleep. Also, it’s easy to remember “no more clothes” and “no impulse buying”. This past week, this “resolution” has reared up at Target, Best Buy, and the grocery store, successfully convincing me to not buy something just for the sake of buying it. It was both difficult and empowering. Once January is over, I’ll try February. I’m hoping that eventually, this will turn into a habit and my wallet will be happier for it.

*Books that are ebook or library loans will have priority.

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